Interview with Helmut Hille (HH)
Conducted by Allen L. Spiker (AS)
July 15, 1979
Transcription and translation by Marvin
Allen L. Spiker Oral History Dialect Collection
AS My name is Allen Spiker and
today's date is July 15, l979 and I'm just south of, do you say
AS Kulm, North Dakota, and speaking with Helmut,
do you say, Hille?
HH Ja. Det, det, desh iss recht. Mein nom (unclear)
Helmut Hille. Mei fawter hat hie lant aufyenommn un ah ik vohn
noch im house vo mein fawter hat yevohnt, det iss in der achtzig
yohr haer. Of course, ik vahr nich yegeboren in det hause, aber
zwee von meine schvester waren hie yeboren. You better stop it.
Trans: Yes, that's correct. My name (is) Helmut
Hille. My father homesteaded here and I still live in the house
in which my father lived... that's some eighty years ago. Of course,
I was not born in that house but several of my sisters were.
AS I have plenty of tape so we'll
just let it go .
HH Well, I don't know, you wanted more of my....
AS Ya, how about something of the Kaschuben here?
AS You were mentioning where they...
HH Oh, OK. Sie sind von Russland yekommen, von Kulm,
Russland......... Bessarabia. And mei fawter var siebtzen yore
alt wo er die vereinigten Staaten yekommn Un er hae aerst in Parkston
, Sud Dakota, vo vohnt velche fon seine freind da un von doh ,
un fon doh iss er uff gekommn, noch Kulm, Nord Dakota, un
hatt land uff yenommen. Und wir, ik vohn noch off der farm vo
mein fawther hatt land uff yenommn un sinn nimme mehr Kachuben
vo heir vohnen in Kulm. Un ik hab ein Schwaben veib un sie kann
nich Kachueben verzaehlen. Ha. Un ik hob kaene frein heir rum
any.. vo die Schprach, Kachuebish verzaehlen kinn. So muss mier
verzeihen fer, menche fer, wenn ich verleicht nicht ganz recht
Trans: They came from Russia, Kulm, Russia...Bessarabia.
My father was seventeen years old when he came to the United States.
He stopped first in Parkston, SD, where he had some friends and
from there he came up to Kulm, ND, then homesteaded some land.
And we still live on the land that my father homesteaded but there
are not many Kachubish people left in Kulm. My wife is Swavian
and can't speak Kachubish. And I don't have any friends around
here with whom I can speak Kachubish. So you have to forgive me
if I misspeak.
AS One thing, about, do you have any idea how many
people in this area were Kachubish, maybe half or a quarter.....in
the Kulm area? What are the other people around here? Are they
HH Schwabs, ya, Schwabs. And , and, und Schwaebs,
viele, nort fon Kulm, sinn fiele Schwaeben un ik daet sagen sie
sinn vielleicht fufzich familichen hie vo Kachubish, Kuschieben
vorn aber die Kachiebishe veryssen .... die yingere leit, die,
die alten zinn wekgeschtorben un yingern die kinn nimme, die verzaehlen
nie mol Kachuebish, nimme.
Trans: Swavians, yes, Swavians. North of Kulm
are many Swavians and I would guess there were fifty families
that were once Kachubish but have forgotten it. The older ones
have died and the youth can no longer speak Kachubish.
AS What do they talk then?
HH Ah, die verzehlen the Englische sproach. Ya,
die, die, verzaehlen nimme Kachuebish, die verzaehlen die Englische
Trans: They speak the English language. They
don't speak Kachubish any more, only English.
AS Do any of the Kachubische here speak the Schwoabishe
HH Ya, die kenn die oak verzaehlen. Aber kaene Schwoaben
kenn the Kachuebische schproach raeden.
AS I know, they're always telling me they can never
HH Ya, die Schwoaben die sinn so dumm, die kenn
die Kachubischen nicht raus kriegen, Ya. (Laughs)
Trans: Yes, the Swavians are so dumb they can't
express themselves in Kachubish. Yes.
AS Do you happen to know where your ancestors came
from in Germany before they went to Russia?
HH Ancestors, no I can't answer that.
AS What were some of the other Kachubischen families
HH Hildebrandt, ya, a Doehring. Mei onkel, der Ludwig
Doehring, unn die Kuehn von Sud Dakota, von Parkston, Sud Dakota.
Daniel Hildebrandt. Und det, det. Ich kann nich, ik kann kaene
andre nu nich dran denka. Aber dess varn fon unser freinschaft
Trans: Hildebrandt, yes, a Doehring. My uncle
Ludwid Doehring and Kuehn from South Dakota, from Parkston, SD.
Daniel Hildebrandt. I can't think of anyone else. That was our
circle of friends.
Voice: Helmut, Simon Schulz
Voice: Simon Schulz, my grandfather here.
HH I didn't even know him. He was Kachuebish?
Voice: He farmed up you know where ....east of Kulm,
there, about six, seven, eight miles.
HH I don't know.
AS You said there were forty of fifty.
HH Oh yes, ..... vo in der friendschaft vorn. Ya.
Vo Kachuebish verzaehlen varen.
AS Um Kulm?
HH Ya, rumm Kulm. Ya.
AS A lot of them went to New Leipzig.
HH Ya, un een war alter Martin Haas war ah Kachueb,
un Schulz, Schulz,
Voice: Robert Schulz.
HH. Robert Schulz vahr a Kaschueb.
Voice: John Schulz
HH Ya, John Schook. I....some of those are way back...old
timers that I barely remember the name of ..ya.
AS The Kachueben here were ...Lutheran?
HH Die varn fersheeden. Viele varn Kongraeser un
Luthaerisch . Ya, Luthaerisch un Kongraeser.
AS So a lot of the Congregationalists went to New
Leipzig and Mott?
HH Ya, Ya, daet iss recht.
AS Do you happen to know any stories or songs when
you went to school here? In your language?
HH Die sinn zu draeckish vass ik vaes. (Laughs)
Trans: Those I know are too dirty!
AS We're interested in hearing them....
HH No, I can't ....No, I really don't know..
AS A story you can't tell on tape.
HH I really wouldn't...
AS Or any songs?
HH Ik vaes nich vas det bedeiten soll, dass ich
so trauerich binn.
Trans: "I don't know what to make of the
fact that I am so sorrowful." (Loralei Song)
AS What I could do is ask the word list and maybe
you can think of something afterwards. We're just interested in
hearing you speak it the way you did in the beginning when we
just sit and talk about something.
(Here followed a standard series of word lists which
Spiker used with almost every interviewee. It is omitted here
because it follows the same pattern as other interviews.)